Sunday, 22 May 2016

REPUBLIC ANYONE? Why this IS the time to discuss it



At the February AGM, Kensington CLP voted by a large majority to affiliate to Republic: campaign for an elected Head of State. This was six months after they had agreed two Motions to Conference: one to scrap Trident, and the other to Stop Taxpayer Funding of the Monarchy (the Trident Motion was chosen to go to Conference).

There was almost unanimous support for the Motion to Conference, and a very large majority of members supported the affiliation to Republic. There was also a small but articulate group insisting that ‘this is not the time’ to support a campaign for an elected Head of State under a Republic.

I wholeheartedly disagree.
The image that made me
 join 'Republic'

This is the perfect moment to discuss the iniquities and inequalities of the hereditary principle, and how one of the richest families in the country is also subsidised by the State via our taxes, to the tune of £300m a year. We have the most expensive monarchy in Europe. They own billions of pounds-worth of assets, from which they receive tens of millions in income. While *some* tax is paid, like savvy landlords they set this against costs that improve the value of their properties so pay little tax. So when Mrs Windsor (aka Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) states rather crustily that the repairs to Buckingham Palace will be paid out of income from visitors, there are major tax savings to be enjoyed.

One for the family album
Don’t cry for me Little England.

To be clear, and to anticipate the usual (snore!) criticisms of this position: I do not *hate* the Royal Family. I don’t know them. I am entirely indifferent to them. But to my mind the combination of Kardashian family-style worship, dodgy uncles allegedly involved in shady deals with dubious governments and other unsavoury behaviour, evident racism, considerable power and authority, with extreme wealth and influence - is a blight on our society. The entire system of monarchy and the hereditary principle is at fault. And I don’t want their money either.

Andrew Windsor and pal

Here are a few issues that have hit a nerve in past years:

-      - The Queen asking if she could apply for help with heating bills for Buckingham palace, via government grants aimed at people in fuel poverty
-      - Charles Windsor accruing £3m from intestate wills in Cornwall
-      - Tax breaks for Charles Windsor’s ‘charities’, that include his repellent Architecture Foundation and building toy town Poundbury
-     -  The outrageous sums paid from the public purse to protect the Playboy Princes while they were out clubbing
-      - The outrageous sums paid from the public purse to give the Playboy Princes hobbies in the army (when they feel like it) and keep them out of nightclubs.
-      - Fashion mags praising 'thrifty Kate' for 'only' spending £35,000 on her wardrobe for a five-day visit to India, while we have four Food Banks in Kensington and Chelsea




    In effect we have our own disfunctional Kardashians, subsidised from the public purse.

In the run-up to the local elections in 2014 I looked up various indicators for Kensington and Chelsea, and found what I feared: K&C is the most unequal borough in Britain. We supposedly have ‘the richest borough in the universe’ (according to a senior Tory). We house some of the richest people in the world (Sultan of Brunei) and some of the poorest in the country (Golborne being the joint poorest ward in London with Northumberland Park in Haringey.

So let’s spell it out. If trickle-down worked, we would have no poor people in Kensington and Chelsea. No Food Banks, no rickets, no TB, and a fighting chance for everyone to survive, healthy and lucid, to 90 years old.

Trickle-down is a fallacy. And this is a disgrace.

So our new Mayor of London may or may not be able to tackle the problem of non-doms, tax avoiders and evaders, money launderers, plutocrats and deposed dictators settling in the borough, while the Council allows it to become a Disney toy town theme park based on a picture-book idea of what it was. We will wait and see, work with the communities we can work with, and lobby till we drop.

Elizabeth Windsor’s birthday is not just a rich and cosseted old lady’s special day. It is a symbol of so much that is so wrong in a country accustomed to deference and subservience to those ‘higher up’ the social scale. A country where very few have the chance to reach 90 at all, let alone hale, hearty, marbles intact, and with no concerns about their care when they need it.

So I say, this is precisely the time to talk about a Republic and creating a more egalitarian society. A society that listens if you are wearing a hijab, a headwrap, or a jumper knitted by your Mum rather than the £2,000 Savile Row suit that is your passport to everywhere. Where you don’t have to look rich or royal to be taken seriously, where your humanity is prized above all else.

So come to the People’s Picnic, Sunday 12 June, 12 noon to 4pm (or later if fine), Kensington Gardens, off Dial Walk, just south of Kensington Palace.

Come and mix, mingle and communicate with other plebs, at our People’s Picnic. Bring your tea, home-made cakes, (or whatever you wish to eat and drink and it won't be tea for me), rugs, park toys, children, neighbours and celebrate being human.

Who knows? We might start something. Or just have a lovely time with new friends.








‘My most flattering outfit is my humanity’